Anthemius of Tralles

Mathematician, Architect

0474 – 0534


Who was Anthemius of Tralles?

Anthemius of Tralles was a Greek professor of Geometry in Constantinople and architect, who collaborated with Isidore of Miletus to build the church of Hagia Sophia by the order of Justinian I. Anthemius came from an educated family, one of five sons of Stephanus of Tralles, a physician. Of his brothers, Dioscorus followed his father's profession in Tralles; Alexander became at Rome one of the most celebrated medical men of his time; Olympius was deeply versed in Roman jurisprudence; and Metrodorus was a distinguished grammarian in Constantinople.

As an architect he is best known for replacing the old church of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople in 532; his daring plans for the church strikingly displayed his knowledge. His skills seem also to have extended to engineering for he repaired the flood defences at Daras.

Anthemius was also a capable mathematician. He described the string construction of the ellipse and he wrote a book on conic sections, which was excellent preparation for designing the elaborate vaulting of Hagia Sophia. He compiled a survey of mirror configurations in his work on remarkable mechanical devices which was known to Arab mathematicians such as Ibn al-Haytham.

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on July 23, 2013


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